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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — The Harem Palace of Calim, Third Floor
~ second-day, 22nd of Hammer, The Year of Wild Magic, dawn
Harem Palace of Calim, fallen minaret


Mythlos snapped out of his trance to see Belvin meditating and praying for his daily allotment from Thard Harr. He felt rested, but his neck was still in pain. He picked up his sword to heal himself with its magic. (He had left it unsheathed beside him to provide light to whoever was on watch.) Leokas, while rested, was still weakened. Jayce and Belvin each laid hands on him, and he felt positive energy strengthen him.

   They prepared themselves and proceeded again into the darkness of the ruins, up into and through the spiral staircase, along the wall of fallen tower, and down into the floor below, Mythlos leading the way with his pale blue light.

   They checked on the bodies they had moved. Sure enough, only skeletons remained. Jayce was fascinated by the number of bones in what were the "choker"'s arms.

   They went to one of the two spiral staircase columns that they had found clear enough to use the previous day and carefully ascended. They were able to go up a floor before sand blocked further passage up. They stood in what was obviously the base of another minaret, like the one they had passed through before, this one right-side-up. They stood in a pie-shaped room. There were two doorways, one on each wall. Each led to another room with sand flooding in through the arched windows. They searched the sand for a good portion of time, but could find nothing.

   So they descended, continuing down two levels to a new floor they had not explored yet. The stairs were blocked by rubble and sand from further passage down. They stepped out into a more spacious area. There were walls ten feet away on either side of them, a large but short hallway leading forward into a massive circular room. Behind them, on the left and right of the stair column were two doorways, each with sand pouring out of them. In the center of the circular chamber were the walls of what appeared to be a square room, about twenty-feet wide. Through a doorway straight ahead into the square room, the elves could see dimly the shape of a stone basin of some sort and what they guessed to be the continuation of the metal pipe from upstairs.

   As they slowly walked forward, they could see that at least two other twenty-foot wide hallways came off this chamber like spokes on a wheel. They assumed, based on the circular symmetry of the place thus far, that these led to stair columns. Also to the sides, they saw that the walls of this rounded chamber had a series of doorways into side rooms. To their right, between two other open doorways, one of the doorways had a rusted metal portcullis blocking the way.

   But what caught their attention most was the wall in front of them, the outside wall of the square room. It was a massive relief sculpture, portraying dancing girls and what they supposed were genies.

   "This is beautiful work!" said Jayce quietly, admiring it closely in the dim blue light.

   "Can we chisel a portion out for the dragon?" said Belvin.

   "We do not have the tools," said Mythlos. He was looking into the room at what was clearly a pool of water and took a step in. Something darted out the opposite doorway and to the left. "Another giant rat," he cautioned the others, "but it fled. It is safe to follow."

   The twenty-foot square room had a ten-foot-diameter basin. It was filled with crystal clear water that could flow into or out of an opening in the pipe.

   "How is there water down here?"

   Belvin cupped some of the water to his mouth and tasted it. "It is fresh."

   "It must have a magical source," said Mythlos.

   "We could cast a cantrip to find out," suggested Jayce.

   "Or does the water come up through the pipe from deeper below?" Leokas asked aloud. "Is there another floor we can reach below us?"

   They were interrupted by a dreadful sound, a blood-curdling moan that came echoing from through the doorway to their left. Something in the sound was tangible almost, chilling, and every one of them felt irrefutably that they were about to die. They were all filled with unbearable terror and fled.

   Mythlos rushed through the doorway straight ahead, through which the rat had darted, almost tripping on a fallen ancient candelabra on the floor. Belvin rushed out the doorway to the right. The others fled out the doorway through which they had come. Vashti continued straight back to the known exit. Leokas and Jayce fled together toward the wall with the portcullis and entered the open doorway on the right.

   "Ghost!" said Leokas and Jayce simultaneously, trying to regain their composures.

   "Do you know how to fight a ghost?" asked Leokas.

   "I do not think you can without magic. They are incorporeal." Jayce shivered visibly in fear. "It can probably drain the life out of us."

   "In any case, we need to regroup."

   "Stay close;" said Jayce. "I cannot see anything in this darkness."

   Everyone had gathered his or her wits and was cautiously approaching the central chamber again. They heard Mythlos' voice. "Something is in the water room!"

   Leokas and Jayce reached Vashti. "I saw it too," she whispered to them. "Humanoid, but covered in hair."

   Jayce set down his crossbow and unslung his yarting. "We are not your enemy," he called out in the darkness. Then he began strumming. This instilled a little courage in his companions. Perhaps a ghost was not such a bad thing.

   They saw a light appear to their right. Belvin was approaching, his bow glowing magically.

   Then Vashti, Leokas, and Jayce saw another glowing light to their left, out of view to the other two, approaching them from the other large hallway. They could soon make out a simultaneously beautiful and terrifying sight. Whatever hairy creature was in the square room was not the ghost. The ghost was a woman, floating gracefully toward them, with hair and silks blowing by an unseen wind. She was transparent and radiant. As she drew closer, the three felt cold. Vashti spit in her hands, in case she needed to call on any ice magic.

   The dead woman spoke. "Why are you here?" Her voice was pleasant but frightening, though not unbearable.

   "To learn the past," said Jayce.

   "Were you playing music?" she asked.

   "I was."

   "It was beautiful music. Will you play for me again? I would like to dance to it."

   "What sort of song would you like me to play?"

   "Play what you just played." So he did, and she began to twirl and move her hips in a sensual manner with her hands raised above her head and her layered silks blowing about.

   Mythlos, meanwhile, reached the others. "It's a rat monster," he whispered to Leokas.

   Leokas pushed him back around the corner, out of the ghost's line of sight, hoping to keep the ghost calm and afraid of what Mythlos might do to change that. "Handle the ghost," he whispered to Vashti, who looked uncomfortable in several ways at once.

   A "rat monster" it was, essentially a humanoid with a rat's features, covered in shaggy hair. It dashed out the doorway from the square room at the two of them, carrying a jambiya in its paw and hissing. Mythlos swung in reflex, but the rat beast deftly avoided the blow and then slashed at Mythlos, leaving a gash in his studded armor and drawing a little blood. Leokas drew back a short distance and released two arrows, which missed, as Mythlos and the rat clashed blades repeatedly in constant motion. Belvin came up behind the rat unnoticed, having dropped his glowing bow and drawn out his scimitar. He slashed deeply into the rat's hairy naked back, which turned red with blood. However, before his eyes, the wound almost entirely sealed itself up!

   Pinned between Mythlos and Belvin and against the relief-covered wall, the rat beast was essentially trapped. Leokas landed an arrow. The rat squeaked in pain, but snapped the shaft off, and the wound closed up over the arrow head. Mythlos took this moment to land a blow. This gash did not heal. Mythlos realized that this creature must be a lycanthrope, as his blade was coated in alchemical silver, which was known to be deadly to were-creatures. The wererat staggered against the wall, swinging back at Mythlos, but with no success.

   Leokas dropped his bow and drew out his rapier. His blade plunged into the rat, just as the beast swatted away a blow from Belvin with its sharp-clawed paws. The rapier wound also healed, but not entirely. A blow from Mythlos was parried, then one from Bevlin, as the rat monster fought for its life against its three foes with incredible skill. It swung at Mythlos and even snapped at him with its massive incisors. Half a minute passed where none of the combatants could land a blow on the other, except for a few stabs from Leokas that did not even draw blood, so quickly they healed.

   Meanwhile, Vashti continued to stand there uncomfortably as the ghost danced, and Jayce strummed as loud as he could, hoping to Erevan that the ghost would remain unaware of the battle ensuing around the corner and terrified about what might occur to them if the ghost were angered.

   At last, Mythlos struck low and cut at the tendons between the wererat's short shins and elongated feet. It collapsed. Belvin was over its body in an instant and beheaded it, somewhat concerned that it would regrow another head. It did not. Instead, its hairy, headless body began to morph and contort. The hairs receded into its skin, the claws receded into its paws, and the shape of the body began to change, until there on the ground was the headless body of a naked male human, blood pouring out of his neck. Oddly enough, the ugly giant rat head did not change.

   No longer hearing the sound of clashing steel, Jayce ceased strumming. The ghost ceased her slow gyrating and faced him. It felt like she was staring right through him, which was unnerving.

   "What is your name?" she asked.
Session: 12th Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 03 2013 from 4:30 AM to 7:30 AM
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Epic!
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — The "Choker"
~ first-day, 21st of Hammer, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
Harem Palace of Calim, second floor down


They made the bugbear walk ahead of them into each hallway and room as they explored the ruins by the light of Mythlos' sword. Belvin or Leokas kept an arrow nocked and ready in case the goblinoid tried anything.

   They first entered the octagonal room with the metal pipe. It extended from floor to ceiling, and they thought they could hear water being stirred somewhere below. There were four doorways out of this room, one led to where Belvin and Vashti had encountered the rats and another to where they had fought Rhok. This left two directions unexplored. They chose one of the doorways and had Rhok step through.

   He informed them that the floor in this next room had mostly collapsed here, although there was a ledge, such that one could walk around most of the perimeter. They had Rhok climb down into the fallen rubble, while they filed in and gathered around. The layout was the same as the other two hexagonal rooms they had been in, with a column in the center that was still standing.

   They spent nearly an hour carefully exploring in every nook and under every fallen stone in this room and in the sand-filled curved hallway through the other two doorways. They found no items of value or really anything at all. In the outer hallway, there were two more spiral staircase columns, one of which was actually clear of sand. The other they could not reach without a large amount of digging. This staircase led both up and down. Beyond that, they could not travel any further along the hallway from here.

   Once again, they could not agree where to go next. One wanted to go up, another down, and another back to the octagonal room to pass through the final door.

   "Or we could split up," said Mythlos.

   "Haven't we learned yet that it is not wise to split up?"

   "Is anyone else hungry?" asked Jayce. They could agree on that.

   While they satisfied their hunger, Jayce took Leokas aside. "Look, at first I thought you were out of line in wanting to execute our prisoner, but since then, I've been watching him carefully; he's constantly glancing at our weapons. I'm ceasing to trust him; I feel he's going to try and kill us all in our sleep."

   "It's as I said," answered Leokas. "Inherently evil."

~~~~


After lunch, they finally agreed to explore the remaining quarter of this seemingly circular floor. They returned to the octagonal room and sent Rhok through the remaining doorway. This room was just like the other three hexagonal rooms, though part of the ceiling had collapsed in, filling most of the room with sand. They had him continue through the opposite doorway that was still reachable. He looked up as he stepped through, then immediately jumped backwards, knocking into Leokas. "The monster!" said Rhok, visibly terrified, "On the ceiling."

   "Go through and fight it," said Mythlos. "That's why we did not kill you."

   "I cannot reach it," said Rhok. "And I have no weapon."

   "Should we give him his weapon back?"

   "Step aside," said Mythlos. "The creature will have heard us and fled." He pushed by Rhok and stepped through the doorway, sword drawn and glowing. Leokas followed behind him. "Belvin, guard our prisoner," he said.

   Mythlos was correct, the monster was nowhere to be seen. They stood in another portion of the outer, rounded, sand-filled hallway. The only space for them to proceed was counterclockwise, to their left. Proceeding with caution and glancing ever upward at the ceiling, Mythlos squeezed over a slope of sand about 15 feet to the foot of another spiral staircase column. This stair column was also clear, he noted. Straight ahead the hallway continued. It also spoked inward to his left, looking exactly like the passage they had first come through when descending to this floor. At the end of the passage was a staircase going up to where stone had fallen over it, blocking the way. There at the top of the steps, perched with its legs split and pressed against the sides of the wall was the monster. It was an ugly, wrinkled and bony, naked and hairless humanoid about the size of a halfling, with mottled gray skin. As Rhok had said, it had two extraordinarily long arms, as if it had extra bones and joints.

   "I have it cornered!" shouted Mythlos to the others.

   The short aberration mumbled or gurgled something that sounded like it might have been a language. Leokas appeared to the left of Mythlos and raised his bow, and then the creature darted. Its movements were supernaturally fast and strangely fluid. It "ran" along the two walls of the passage, tentacle-like arms dangling, in a gray blur, directly over Mythlos. The monster's arms flailed at him, snapping rapidly like whips. Mythlos dodged the right and parried the left, but then the right arm struck him soundly, and he felt long, spiny-padded fingers around his neck, painfully choking the life out of him as the spiny grip dug into his skin. The creature dropped to the ground nearly atop Mythlos, who struggled with his shield hand to free himself from the monster's tightening grasp. It fell to the opposite side of Mythlos, preventing Leokas from a clear shot. One of his arrows strayed, as Mythlos and the creature grappled, but the second hit. Its hold did not weaken. Instead, the left tentacled arm whipped around Mythlos and struck Leokas soundly in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him and causing him to stagger. Mythlos kicked the thing in the groin, causing it to snarl in pain, but its grip still did not lessen. Mythlos felt light-headed and closed his eyes, about to pass out.

   Having heard the initial shout, Belvin and Jayce had entered the hall. Dropping his crossbow, Jayce rushed toward the battle, waving his arms with urgency, a pinch of wool between his fingers, and calling forth an enchantment. The monster's eyes went wide and it released its grip, swaying oddly as if drunk. Mythlos' free hand went to his own throat as he gasped for air, stepping away.

   Then, out of the darkness from the other end of the hallway, Vashti approached, arm outstretched toward the little monster and chanting. Leokas could hear static in the sleeve of her tunic. She touched the dazed creature, and it convulsed violently as she electrocuted it with her touch. It fell to the floor. Mythlos, having regained his breath, lost no time in beheading the hideous monster.

~~~~


When they had all regained their composures, Mythlos and Leokas thanked Jayce and Vashti for saving their lives.

   "You are most welcome," said Jayce.

   "What was that?" asked Mythlos.

   "Vashti? Do you know?" asked Jayce.

   "I've never seen anything like it," she said.

   "What spell was that? I've never seen you use it before."

   "I like to keep a few secrets up my sleeves," she answered, almost smiling.

   "Was that what they called 'shocking grasp' at the enclave?" asked Mythlos, his hand still holding his damaged neck. "I think Aravilar scribed that evocation in my spellbook."

   Vashti nodded. "Yes, it is one of the traditional elementalist spells."

   Leokas noticed something. "What happened to the bugbear?"

   "The battle started, and I didn't want to get stabbed in the back," said Belvin matter-of-factually. They found Rhok dead back in the other room, an arrow between his eyes. Jayce smirked, understanding what had happened.

~~~~


"We have to go back and rest," said Leokas. They were debating what to do next, having drained themselves of most of their magical power or stamina.

   "It's probably not even mid-afternoon yet!"

   "Even so, I feel like the monster bruised my ribs, and Mythlos' neck is swelling. None of you have any healing magic remaining. I have strong doubts that any of us are in any position to take on any other dangers we might face in these ruins."

   "Thard Harr only grants his power to me at dawn," said Belvin.

   "Then let us set up camp here."

   "No," said Vashti. "Now that there are two new dead bodies, the rats might return."

   "Shall we return to Sseth and report our progress so far?"

   "How will we leave the ruins?" said Vashti. "I do not have the power left in me to levitate myself. We are stuck in the ruins for several more hours at least."

   After further discussion, Leokas convinced them to return up a level to where the tower had fallen over the fountain. Before that, they dragged the bodies of the bugbear and the gangly monster away from their planned path when they would return. The dire rats on the level above continued to ignore them, and they returned the favor. They realized that they needed to build a way of accessing the horizontal spiral staircase column above them later to return back the way they had come, so they spent a few hours gathering fallen rubble and building a sort of pyramid so that they could reach 15 feet up to staircase column. This completed, they proceeded back further to the ruined minaret camp, where they rejoiced at the natural sunlight they found there.

   They lit a fire in the hobgoblins' fire pit and relaxed in their own ways. Mythlos practiced telling a ghost story that involved giant rats, and Jayce gave him constructive criticism on his technique. Jayce spun a humorous yarn about their battle with the "choker" as he called it. Leokas shared a tale he had read as a child about a similar gangly creature that liked to tell riddles before eating its victims. Neither Belvin nor Vashti seemed in the mood for storytelling, the latter spending time trying to mend the many holes in her clothing from the ordeal with the rats. Leokas approached Belvin and tried to make up with him regarding how he had shot at the dire rats earlier. It was not clear to him whether the apology was accepted or not.

   When darkness came, Mythlos and Jayce had the first watch, while the others slept or rested. "My life flashed before my eyes," said Mythlos. "I thought I was through."

   "You should be thankful that you are a good grappler," said Jayce.

   "No, I should be thankful for yours and Vashti's magic. I should learn to use my newly learned spells in combat more, perhaps."

   When his watch was ended, Jayce retired to a spot in the sand, but he had trouble sleeping. His mind was pondering the meaning and purpose of such a creature as the "choker". It was a humanoid, just like him, yet its whole life was spent in the dark, lurking, waiting to steal life from another. It seemed to have had a language; it must have had a mind and a will. Did it have cares and desires? Or was it evil through and through? He would never know.
Session: 12th Game Session - Wednesday, Jul 03 2013 from 4:30 AM to 7:30 AM
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Epic!
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — The Harem Palace of Calim, Second Floor
The stairs led down into a narrow hallway, five-feet wide, that extended for ten more feet before opening into a larger space. Directly in front of them was the column of a spiral staircase, upright this time, but sand came out of the openings, blocking passage up or down. In fact, the whole area was filled with sand, which appeared to come in through the many arched windows on the far wall, which was curved in a giant arc. There appeared to have been a large balcony behind the stair column, and a massive amount of sand had poured through that as well. So much sand filled this area that they could barely maneuver, but it formed two sloped tunnels, one to the left and one to the right. Vashti headed right carefully, sliding over the sand with her hand against the stone wall for balance, and Belvin followed behind her. Mythlos, Leokas, and Jayce proceeded in the other direction.

   "There's a doorway here on the wall in three paces, and the passageway continues to curve ahead around the corner," she called out, voice echoing.

   "It is just the same this way," answered Mythlos.

   Vashti cautiously stood in the doorway and looked into a large room, in the shape of an elongated hexagon, about thirty feet from wall to wall. A large stone pillar supporting the ceiling stood in the center of the room.

   "It appears empty," she said.

   "How can you see anything at all?" asked Belvin. He placed his hand into his pouch and held a holly berry between his fingers, chanting a simple orison softly. He removed his now-glowing fingertip from the pouch and touched the end of his shortbow, which caused it to shine brightly like a torch. The room flooded with light. There was a doorway in the shorter diagonal wall straight across from them and another in the longer wall across from them to the left. Apart from the pillar, the room was empty, just as Vashti had said.

   "Did you not believe me?"

   "What race are you, Vashti?" Belvin asked her, as they stepped into the room.

   "I am... mostly human," she answered sheepishly.

   "How mostly? One half? One quarter?"

   "Does this matter?"

   "Humans tend to be rather boring. What is your other part?"

   "Do you smell that?" she asked.

   Belvin caught a whiff of an awful smell from the doorway ahead of them. "Something died," he said.

~~~~


Meanwhile, Mythlos looked into the other room, which seemed at first to be empty as well. However, when he stepped into it, the shadow of a large creature darted out of one of the other doors to the room. "We aren't alone."

   "What was it?"

   "I didn't get a good look at it."

   Mythlos, Leokas, and Jayce glanced around the room by the light of the moonblade. It was a mirror image of the room that the other two had entered, except that an L-shaped pit was in a corner to their right, where the floor had collapsed to the level below. In another corner was a large sack.

   Suddenly, they heard Vashti shout out from the other room, "Rats!" followed by her screaming.

   Leokas rushed ahead over to the doorway on the small diagonal wall. His vision revealed an octagonal room between the two other rooms. It was about 25 feet in diameter with doorways on every other wall. A narrow metal column or pipe was in the center. Below this lay a humanoid skeleton. In a 20-foot trail from the skeleton were rats — hundreds of rats, literally crawling over each other. By the light of Belvin's spell, he could see this swarm of rats covering Vashti's body in the other room, crawling all over her and biting. She frantically was swinging her curved dagger at them to no avail. Bevlin's voice was speaking in Sylvan again with intermittent squeaks. Leokas loosed an arrow. It may have killed a rat or two but helped nothing.



   Leokas then heard Jayce shout, "Behind you!" as a hulk of a humanoid came through the doorway behind Mythlos and slashed him in the back with a scimitar, drawing blood. The bugbear roared in a gruff voice. Leokas understood him to say, "No, I will not be a slave again!"

   "We are here to send you to your grave, not the slave market!" replied Leokas in Ghukliak, while releasing another arrow at the goblinoid, as Mythlos spun around and swung in defense. The bugbear parried his blow, and the arrow strayed.

   In the other room, Vashti lost the contents of her stomach from the rats crawling over her and into her clothes. But the rats were mostly crawling off her now and had stopped biting. They seemed to be calming down due to Belvin's efforts, but the damage was done; Vashti was bleeding from hundreds of tiny bite wounds and was feeling numb from the loss of blood.

   Belvin cast a healing spell and stepped into the swarm of rats to reach her shoulder with his hand. Positive energy flowed from his hand through her body, and the majority of her wounds closed up, but now the rats were starting to climb up and bite him instead.

   Vashti no longer had rats crawling all over her, but she was still surrounded by them and trapped. She concentrated, and a gust of air lifted her off her feet five feet to where the rats could no longer reach her. Belvin reached out and grabbed her ankle, hovering at chest-level to him. He swung her through the air, over the swarm and through the nearby doorway. She glided with the momentum of his swing over to the metal column in the center of the octagonal room where the skeleton lay. Belvin stepped out of the mass of moving rat bodies, brushing many off of him gently and continuing to vocally calm them. The swarm began to move away across the room.

   The fight with the bugbear continued, as the bugbear and Mythlos continued to exchange swings, and Mythlos left a deep gash in his stomach. Jayce dropped his crossbow and joined the melee with his dagger, trying to feint attacks to help Mythlos land blows. The two of them prevented Leokas from getting a clear shot, so he rushed past them to the bugbear's left side and sent an arrow into the goblinoids side. In a rage, he lunged at Leokas and struck him on the neck. Leokas dropped to his knees as he began to choke on his own blood. Before he passed out, he felt the freezing spray of ice from a magic icicle striking the bugbear. Vashti and Belvin had both entered the room, and each of their shots struck home. Now the bugbear was on his knees, with several wounds and two arrows stuck in his body. He dropped his scimitar and raised his arms in the air. Jayce was at Leokas' side humming gently, and positive energy flowed from hand to neck, sealing the wound. Leokas opened his eyes again to hear the bugbear calling out in Ghukliak the same word over and over again, but it was not one he knew.

   "Do you speak Common?" said Jayce.

   "Yes," said the bugbear. "I lost! I lost! I lost!"

   "We know you lost."

   "I think he means that he surrenders."

   Belvin readied an arrow and pointed it at the bugbear, but he swooned and fell over from loss of blood.

   "We need to bring him back to question him."

   So Belvin cast a simple healing orison and touched the bugbear. It stirred and sat up. (Meanwhile, Mythlos healed his and Belvin's wounds with his sword.)

   "Tell us why you are here if you wish to live," said Mythlos, picking up the bugbear's dropped scimitar.

   "I want to leave this place! There is a slimy monster in this place! It killed Ghur. The rats ate him. I cannot climb out without Ghur's help."

   "Who was Ghur?"

   "What monster?"

   "Don't ask so many questions at once," said Jayce. "Here, have some of my water," he said, offering his waterskin to the bugbear. "What is your name?"

   "I am Rhok."

   "Now, Rhok, why are you in these ruins?"

   "Ghur and I wanted to look around this place. We wanted to find treasure. He is gone. They have left me behind."

   "Did you find any treasure?" asked Mythlos.

   "No. I only have coins. I carried them with me for the others. They are over there." He pointed at the sack in the corner of the room. Mythlos headed over to examine it as the others continued asking questions.

   "Who are 'they'? With whom were you traveling?"

   "Hobgoblins. They were slaves like me. Barlock and Gnish freed us. Barlock and Gnish did not want to take me. Ghur said I would be useful for carrying things. I carried things for the group. I thought they needed me. They left me here. Ghur was my only friend. Now I hate hobgoblins."

   "We hate hobgoblins also," said Leokas.

   "Tell us exactly how Ghur died," said Belvin.

   "Ghur was over there in the other room," said Rhok, pointing toward the octagonal room with the skeleton. "I walked into the room to see him. What was he doing? I saw a black, little monster. It was strangling Ghur. It was stuck to the corner of the ceiling. It had very long arms. It saw me. It let go. It dropped to the floor. It ran. It was very fast."

   "What did this monster look like?" asked Belvin. "How tall was it?"

   "It was this tall," said Rhok, indicating a height of about two and a half feet.

   "Did it have arms and legs?"

   "Yes. It had very long arms."

   "What was it wearing?"

   "It was naked."

   "Where did it go?"

   "I do not know. It hid. It is sneaky. I hid over there by the pit in the dark. Ghur was dead. Then rats ate him today."

   "Tell us more about Barlock and Gnish," said Jayce.

   "Barlock and Gnish told us: Those who survive the desert were chosen by Allu. Allu is their god. Some hobgoblins were weak. They were not chosen. We ate them. Gnish was also eaten. A brown dragon with no wings bit his head off. I guess Gnish was not special after all."

   "I believe we killed that dragon," said Belvin.

   "Or one of its children," said Vashti.

   After discussing amongst themselves, the adventurers decided to allow Rhok to help them find and fight the gangly monster with long arms in exchange for his freedom when they arrived back at the surface. Belvin was concerned that the bugbear might try to eat Kamil, but he thought he would be good to have around, if only for bait. Leokas, however, was strongly opposed to every part of the plan.

   "We don't trust him either," said the others, "but what can he do? He is still badly injured, he has no weapons, and there are five of us."

   "It's not just that I do not trust it," said Leokas. "Goblinoids are inherently evil. They cannot be good or do good; they are like demons and devils. It benefits the whole world if they are destroyed. I cannot permit it to live."

   "But it is also evil to go back on a promise," said Mythlos. "If he helps us, we must keep our end of the bargain and set him free."

   Against Leokas' complaints, Jayce informed Rhok that he would help them if he wanted to be free. The bugbear nodded in agreement.

   "Rhok thanks you," the bugbear said. Leokas was certain he could see deceit in his eyes.
Session: 11th Game Session - Thursday, Jun 20 2013 from 5:00 AM to 7:30 AM
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Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — The Harem Palace of Calim, First Floor
~ first-day, 21st of Hammer, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
ruins of Teshyll


The adventurers stood at the edge of the rupture in the stone of the cap of the fallen minaret. "It looks to be about 20 feet down," said Vashti.

   "We have no shortage of rope," said Leokas, "but I do not see anything to which we can tie it."

   "What about your carpet, Vashti?" queried Jayce.

   "It would work, but once we were all down there, I do not want to have to haul it around the ruins; it is heavy."

   "We could just leave it at the entrance."

   "It is magical and costly and of personal value to me. I will not risk that."

   "But we did raise you from the dead...."

   "I am jumping down," said Mythlos, and lowering himself off the edge, he dropped himself down and tumbled unto the sand below. While he did not cry out, it was not a graceful landing, and he quickly touched the flat of his blade to his shoulder to quench
the pain.

   "If I lower myself down, can you catch me?" asked Vashti.

   Mythlos nodded.

   "You will keep your hands to yourself, or I will kill you."

   He nodded again, so she fell backward and he caught her and then set her down gently.

   "What do you see down there?" called Belvin.

   They stood on the sand-covered, curved wall of the minaret. Laying around them were clear signs that they were not the first to climb down into the tower. There was a stone fire circle in the flattest area of what was now floor. There were scattered bone fragments with tooth marks that seemed to come from some sort of humanoid. There were areas were it appeared that a dozen or more medium-sized creatures had slept on the sand. Mythlos and Vashti relayed this information to the others.

   It took them quite a while to decide on a plan to get them all down without being stranded once they got down there. Belvin was especially concerned about getting trapped in the ruins and unable to climb out. Vashti convinced them that on their return, she could float out with her magic, retrieve her carpet from Kamil, and then they could all exit one at a time. Satisfied, Belvin climbed down Leokas' rope as he held it, followed by Jayce, who slipped and tumbled into the sand anyway. Leokas carefully lowered himself off the ledge, and landed soundly and gracefully.

   All of them performed a more thorough search of the inside of the minaret cap. Belvin spotted several footprints, which Leokas confirmed were from hobgoblin feet.

   The slope of the wall of the minaret cap rose up to meet what used to be the floor. Here, the stone had fallen away, leaving an eight-foot opening into the next room, what would have been the next floor down. The tower had fallen in such a way that two former walls at a 45 degree angle now formed a triangular ceiling with two openings (former doorways), one on each ceiling/wall. The old curved wall was now the floor, and in the center of it was the remains of an arched window. Little hills of hand had piled directly below the old doorways in the now ceiling.

   Whoever had been here before them had clearly proceeded further; a pile of rubble — likely from the opening through which they passed — had been piled up to the corner of their ceiling to reach what used to be the entrance to the column of a spiral staircase. It appeared that to continue further into these ruins, they would need to pass through along a spiral staircase sideways.

   With sword drawn, Mythlos began climbing and easily reached the top of the pile of rubble, supporting himself against the wall/floor, and reached his hands up to the ledge of the first sideways step of the spiral staircase. Just then, out of the shadows in one of the old doorways in the now ceiling, a multi-legged horror scurried upside down along the surface and snapped at him with its sharp pincers. It was a giant centipede, about 8-feet long.



   Mythlos stabbed up at the monstrous crawling arthropod and punctured its exoskeleton, squirting green ooze. It fell from the ceiling to the ground, rolled itself into a tight ball, and died.

   Mythlos rubbed his wound. It was only two small puncture marks in his left arm, but he suddenly felt dizzy.

   "Centipedes are venomous," said Belvin. "If we act quickly, I can suck the venom out." Mythlos descended and Belvin put his lips around each of the wounds on Mythlos' bare arm, sucking and then spitting to the floor. "We need to watch you closely for a while," said Belvin.

   "I still feel a bit unstable," said Mythlos, "but I'm not feeling any worse."

   Vashti cut off the head segment of the centipede to ensure it was dead — a nasty task. Belvin cut the large pincers off the second segment, hoping to make use of its poison. They considered searching its stomach, but none of them knew enough about centipede anatomy. Jayce softly sang a magical tune and began looking around carefully for magical auras but saw nothing save for the glow from Mythlos' blade and the two bottles in Leokas' pack.

   Vashti had Mythlos let her step onto his hands so that she could be lifted up to the former doorway in the ceiling from which the centipede had come. She saw a room half-filled with sand and nothing else.

   Jayce got lifted up to look through the other doorway and saw a mirror-image of what Vashti had seen. "All of this sand must have poured in through the tower windows," he postulated.

   With extra caution this time, Mythlos climbed the rubble pile again and pulled himself up into the spiral staircase. Standing on the second sloped step, he was able to assist the others at climbing up. They carefully ascended the first few steps, while leaning against the central column, then hopped onto the column itself and over to the other side, where they carefully lowered themselves by sliding along the bottom side of the stairs that would have gone up to top floor.

   Mythlos dropped himself down about seven and a half feet into the next chamber, which would have looked exactly like the previous room, except that the sideways tower wall had broken apart here, so the floor was the actual floor (or perhaps roof) of a larger structure below. The old floor (now a wall) of this tower level had also broken apart creating a larger room about 20-feet square. The tower appeared to have fallen over a large water fountain, the fragments of which were scattered around in what would have been the floor below.

   The others followed. Sunlight could no longer reach here, and it would have been utterly dark except for the glow of Mythlos' sword, which illuminated things well enough. Upon taking the environment in, Jayce commented, "Was this some sort of plaza?" He scanned the area for magic, but his spell began fading, and he found nothing.

   Vashti had noticed an object in the corner behind them and went to examine it. It appeared to be the corroded remains of an ancient metal lantern.

   "Does that count as a relic for the dragon?" asked Jayce. "It had no aura."

   "Perhaps," said Vashti. "I am keeping it nonetheless."

   Belvin then warned the others. "I hear scuttling and a high-pitched squeaking noise, probably from large rodents."

   "How large?"

   "Large enough for me to hear their squeaks. One cannot usually hear the squeaks of the littler ones, unless they are distressed."

   Feeling somewhat uncomfortable at the thought of giant rats, Jayce pulled out his pipe and asked Leokas for a spark from his tinderbox. "Where are they?"

   "In that direction." Belvin pointed to the far left corner, beyond the ruined fountain and bath. "I will try to calm them." Belvin approached the corner slowly and calmly, making inhuman squeaking and chattering sounds and speaking soothingly in Sylvan.

   "Did those sounds just come from him?" asked Vashti.

   But Belvin ignored her and kept approaching near the left side of the fountain. Beyond this, in the wall/floor of the current tower level, there was another gap, where stone had fallen away. A large creature scurried past the opening from left to right. Leokas followed behind Belvin with an arrow nocked, just in case.

   Peeking through the opening, Belvin spotted two dog-sized, spikey-haired, rat-like rodents with massive incisors. He continued to speak gently to them, and stepped through the opening into the next room. It was a similar room to the previous sideways tower levels. The giant rats were huddled in the corner in the shadows where the blue light from Mythlos' sword could not reach.

   Suddenly an arrow ricocheted off the stone wall above the rats. It came from over Belvin's shoulder. Belvin spun around. Leokas' bow was empty.

   "What are you doing?" he whispered angrily, pushing Leokas back out through the opening into the fountain room.

   "You need to feel what it is like when another tries to kill someone or something you have promised protection to," Leokas replied.

   The two elves began a heated argument once again about the matter of the gang of youth in Keltar.

   "That's enough!" commanded Vashti. "You two are acting like children." But they did not cease. Jayce came over and inserted himself between the two of them and managed to keep them from striking each other.

   They had multiple options to explore at this point. Each former level of the tower seemed to have the same layout. This meant that their sloped ceiling always had two doorways and the column of the spiral staircase to investigate. While the other two elves were fighting, Mythlos was exploring. He poked his head up into the doorways above and saw sand-filled rooms. One of the doorways, however, he could climb up into, due to fallen stone. The former floor of this room had fallen away leading over into another, which would have been a level below had the tower been upright. This second room had less sand and a thick, metal pole ten-feet long. He search around for a few minutes and found that the pole seemed to have once been attached from the floor to the ceiling, but beyond this fact did not find anything else.

   In the room where the rats were hiding, there was a staircase going down into whatever large structure the tower had fallen over. (They found a second staircase on the right side of the fountain as well, but this one was covered in fallen rubble.) Convinced that there was no where else to go except for through the spiral staircase column above their heads or down these new steps, Vashti chose the latter, and the others followed in a line....
Session: 11th Game Session - Thursday, Jun 20 2013 from 5:00 AM to 7:30 AM
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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Imago Deorum
Chapter 1 — A Dungeon and a Dragon
~ ninth-day, 19th of Hammer, The Year of Wild Magic, morning
Teshyllal Wastes


It was now the sixth day of their travels with Asref's caravan. Asref informed them that they were now in the Teshyllal Wastes. What was once a lush and productive land of farms providing for the city of Teshyll was now one of the most dangerous regions of the Calim Desert. Blue dragons were often spotted here, though Asref had never seen any (up close anyhow), in his three trips thus far. Asref had never seen or heard of the "brown dragon" they had fought the day before until it burst from the ground.

   Considering that grueling encounter with the brown dragon wyrmling yesterday, everyone was rather tense, expecting enormous monsters to erupt at their feet again at any moment. Because everyone else was looking down, only Belvin spotted a large shadow fly across the sun high above. It was definitely not a bird; it was too large and the shape had a long neck and tail. It soared overhead and disappeared in the horizon. He didn't tell anyone else what he had seen.

   Asref was now pushing them at a harder pace. He wanted them to make it to the ruins of Teshyll by the next night, where he said there would be springs. Their feet had certainly adapted to walking, but they were always thirsty.

   When the day grew too hot for walking, they once again set up camp under the shade and shelter of three magically-formed trees. This was most fortunate, because at noon, they were woken from trance or nap by Asref. "I've spotted another sandstorm," he said. "Tie everything down."

   The goods were tied down and a tarp wall was set up with the three magic trees as supports. The humans clustered behind its shelter. Then the storm hit. It was a stronger storm than the last they had experienced, but they managed. It lasted roughly an hour.

   Belvin looked up near the end of its passing and dared to open his eyes slightly. In the blowing cloud of dust, he thought he could make out the shape of a humanoid face wailing, before it dissipated into the cloud. This, too, he kept to himself.

~~~~


Day seven came and went without an encounter with storm or beast. The thirst and heat, even in the so-called cooler hours, made it hard to think, so time seemed to pass quickly for everyone. They reached an area with many large boulders among the sand dunes. They did not recognize at first that these massive stones were clearly made by sentient beings, the remains of ancient walls. "Welcome to Teshyll," said Asref, "the city of decadence and hedonism of the Calim Empire." He then spit on the ground. "Somewhere amid these stones, we should be able to find a spring or well. Memnon's crackle hasn't destroyed the earth so much as to eliminate all of the water under the surface."

   It took three-quarters of an hour and multiple search teams to find a pool of water, but at last they did, and there they replenished their waterskins, quenched their thirst, and set up camp, just as the sun was setting.



   Since they only had a short distance to the Trade Way from here, Asref informed the adventurers that they had fulfilled their duties to him. They were welcome to head north to Memnon with the caravan, but if they wished to continue elsewhere, they would be on their own. "Pasha Faruk said you would protect us till the Trade Way. As far as I am concerned, you have more than earned your way to these ruins. It is only a few more hours to the Trade Way from here, where the syl-pasha's minarets will protect us from further harm."

~~~~


For the first time in most of a tenday, the adventurers were able to sleep (or trance) until after sunrise, although they had few ideas of what to do in the morning. Belvin wanted to continue with the caravan, but the others wanted to see if they could find any evidence of the hobgoblins among the ruins.

   From his hammock tied between the remains of two pillars, Jayce rubbed his eyes and looked east toward the rising sun... and saw an enormous dragon lying on its back, wings outspread. Its scales reflected light and were colored like brass. It appeared to be sunning itself.

   Filled with no small amount of trepidation, he quietly lowered himself off his hammock and climbed down to the sand. He gathered up his courage and slowly approached. His bardic curiosity urged him forward. A dragon! What bard would pass up such an opportunity. All of the legends and tales of dragons that he knew would tell him that a dragon with metallic scales was good and noble. Still, the creature was enormous, with at least a 60-foot length from snout to the tip of its tail. "Why am I walking so slowly?" he thought to himself. "It can probably smell me already."

   It could. "Good morning, little man," said the dragon with a deep, pleasant male voice, without moving his head. His left eye opened, revealing a molten white orb.

   "Good morning," replied Jayce.

   The dragon turned his massive head to look toward Jayce with both of his white eyes. He had a unique, curved, bony frill and two dagger-like horns under his chin. He sniffed the air. "Hmm...," he said, taking the smell in. "You have copper hair and two-different colored eyes. What manner of human are you? Are you of the Lantanna? I will guess that you are of the Lantanna. Is that true? Why then do you smell so... familiar?"

   Jayce was taken aback. "Yes," he said, "you guess correctly. Of which smell do I remind you?"

   "I do not remember," said the dragon, somewhat distantly. "It will come to me some day." The huge creature pulled in his outstretched wings and rolled over onto his belly, throwing a cloud of sand. "How did you come to the continent?" he asked.

   "I came seeking a fortune and adventure, the usual tale."

   "Sometimes the usual tale is worth hearing several times," said the dragon. "But how did you end up in the middle of the desert? Surely that is not the usual tale!"

   "I made a poor decision and stole from one I should not have," said Jayce. "He sold me into slavery. I later gained my freedom and now am here."

   "Hmm.... Your story seems... to be missing chapters, I think." The dragon seemed to be frowning. Then he spotted the instrument on Jayce's back and his countenance changed. "Oh, is that a yarting? From Amn? Or is it a local version? You must be a bard then. You must sing me an epic tale. Tell me a Lantanese story." The dragon sat up much like a dog and put his foreclaws together in excitement. "I do love stories. Do you know any with those magical little gnomes in them? Do tell! I am all earholes!"

   So Jayce spun an epic tale about Lantan with a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end and a gnome, accompanied by his strumming. The dragon's eyes were closed as he listened, and his tail thumped in the sand keeping rhythm with Jayce's strumming, while his body swayed back and forth. Jayce thought he was smiling, or hoped so, as the dragon had a vast array of fangs that were now showing.

   Back at the camp, Vashti awoke and rolled out of her hammock. She heard faint music and spotted Jayce performing for the dragon. Concerned, she found Leokas and snapped him out of his trance. "Another dragon," she whispered. "Jayce is playing it a song."

   The two carefully approached as the tale was finishing. The dragon clapped his foreclaws together. "My thanks to you, little bard. That was mighty enjoyable and a new one to me as well. Now I see that you have two friends approaching." He sniffed deeply. "Good morning, forest elf. Good morning,... I am not sure what you are."

   "Uh, Vashti's human," said Jayce.

   "She looks Calishite, yes, but she does not smell Calishite. Perhaps it is one of your lady perfumes. Oh, I must tell you of the time I met an elven adventuress who wore the perfume of a halfling. She had me so confused! It was back in my younger days, when I was quite naïve and young...." So the dragon proceeded to tell his story, which took no less than ten minutes. They began to lose interest, but were cued that his tale had finished by his rumbling laughter at the end of it. "I assure you that I am much older and wiser now.... But here I now know one of your names, and a pretty name it is, but what of you and you? I presume you would prefer not to be called little elf and little man?"

   "I am Leokas Dusktracker."

   "And I am simply Jayce. May we ask your name?"

   "Well met, Leokas Dusktracker, Vashti, and Simply Jayce. My name is Sseth. Only Oghma knows why my mother gave me the same name as a Yuan-ti demigod, but at least it is easier for you little folk to pronounce than some other dragon names, such as Iryklathagra or Sapphiraktar. (Surely, Sapphiraktar's mother knew his siblings would shorten his name to what we call 'tree blood' in Common!) I know those names seem long compared to those in your language, but have you heard the names of genies? I once met a djinni whose name was 16-syllables long! Why does anyone need a name 16 syllables long? It's absurd."

   "The treants in my home forest also have exceptionally long names in their own tongue," said Leokas.

   "Are you from the High Forest?" asked Sseth, excitedly. "Oh, sit down and tell me more. Have you spoken with treants? Do you know any centaurs?"

   Realizing their conversation with Sseth was going to be a long one, they sat down in the sand. Leokas was queried by Sseth for a half hour on the trivia of High Forest and the fey who lived there.

   By now, Belvin (on Kamil) and Mythlos came out to the circle of conversants. Sseth guessed each of their races, asked their names, and expressed his usual delight at hearing all about their homelands of Tethyr and the Chondalwood. Another 30 minutes or so passed.

   Mythlos, as he was apt to do, pulled out his sword and showed it to the dragon. "A moonblade?" said Sseth. "I can see that it must be from the moonstone in the pommel and the fine craftsmanship in the hilt and blade. I have never seen one before; may I hold it?" He held out his large open claws. The claws themselves were frighteningly sharp and there was webbing between each finger much as the brown dragon's had. Mythlos laid the blade out, and Sseth lifted it up closer to his eyes. With that, Mythlos felt a sharp pain in his stomach and contorted slightly in response.

   "Oh, I am so sorry!" said Sseth, handing the sword back to him. "I had forgotten how tightly the swords are said to bind to their masters. How fascinating! How did you get one?" Another story was exchanged.

   "This has been such a pleasant morning of stories," said Sseth. By now it was getting hot. "I wish I had some breakfast to offer you, but I myself have only had cactus dew. It is so good to see you; I have not conversed with elves in a long while."

   "You do not see elves often?" queried Jayce.

   "There are not many elves remaining in these lands and haven't been for my whole life. Plus I do not get to leave the desert often. You see, we brass dragons do not share the magical ability of many of our cousins to polymorph into the forms of other creatures such as yourselves. I am not quite so powerful as the famed Eldenser, of whom you must have heard tale.... No? I must tell you then. Eldenser is one of the most powerful dragons of my race alive today. In his old age, which for a dragon is indeed most old, even for you elven folk, he developed, after years and years of deep study, a way to separate his soul from his body. He placed his soul into a magical sword and arranged for it to be found by an adventurer. He now travels around Toril in various blades, hopping from one to the other when he grows bored."

   Leokas said, "To clarify, are you saying that he polymorphed into a sword?"

   "No, no, his body is still living. It is an empty shell, protected somewhere in his hidden lair. You are correct though that many dragons have and use the ability to change the very layout of the material in their bodies to take on new forms. A very many of my distant dragon kin live among you disguised as humans or elves. Some even have children in those forms! But I am by no means that powerful. Alas, the only way I can experience your worlds is through your books. I am, one might say, a 'book wyrm'." The dragon laughed heartily at his own joke, which caused the ground to rumble.

   "You read books?" asked Jayce.

   "Yes, any books I can get my claws on, though I prefer works from ancient times — well, that is, books in any of the languages I can read."

   "Which languages do you read?"

   "Well, Draconic and Common of course, plus Alzhedo, Elven, Dwarven, Celestial, Auran, Ignan, and Aquan — in the order that I learned them. Have you ever heard Aquan spoken? It is so fun to speak...." Sseth began gurgling an example sentence and then proceeded to give examples and opinions on several of his languages over the next five minutes. Then, he abruptly changed topics; the adventurers almost missed that he was talking about them again.

   "I actually spotted all of you the other day as I was flying overhead. You were with a caravan — I assume as its mercenaries."

   "You assumed correctly."

   "But the caravan left this morning before I arrived for my morning sunbath. And you have ventured far across the desert to be abandoned, and you do not seem concerned about this."

   So Leokas explained their hobgoblin quest to Sseth. "You have not," he then asked, "seen a large group of hobgoblins?"

   "As a matter of fact," said Sseth, "I have. They are about two days ahead of you, traveling by night, heading west. They have crossed the Trade Way and are continuing west."

   This news filled Leokas with renewed hope. "How many were there?"

   "I did not count them, but I would say 15 to 20. I was quite confused as to their presence on the sands. I have not heard of such creatures making such a trip, unless slaves in a caravan. I did not stop them; hobgoblins do not tell good stories in my experience, nor do they like to talk much. Plus, their language is rather unpleasant to my earholes, and I do not like their smell. I just flew about on my business."

   "What is your 'business'?" asked Jayce, wishing he had a book to record everything he was learning about brass dragons.

   "Oh, that was just a figure of speech really. I have no employer or employees; I am 'my own dragon', you might say. I spend most of my time either enjoying the air or enjoying my museum and my books in my home."

   "Your museum?"

   "Yes. I have a large collection of relics and artifacts from ancient days, particularly treasures from the early ages of Calimshan, for this land is very old, and has been the realm of dragons, giants, elves, dwarves, genies, humans, and other fouler creatures."

   "What about other dragons? Do you not spend time with them? Are there many dragons in this desert?"

   "We dragons are very independent creatures. Usually, the older we get, the more we keep to ourselves. You fast-breeding folk would not understand. But yes, there are many dragons in this desert, mostly blue dragons. One must always be careful of blue dragons. I am a somewhat powerful creature of magic, it is true, but I must also admit that I am no match for a blue dragon my size."

   Leokas wanted to get the topic back on something related to their adventure. "Good dragon, might we be able to request your assistance in our quest? We have no means of tracking the hobgoblins further because of the constant storms and shifting sands."

   "Yes, it seems to me that you are in need of an airborne scout with 'the vision of a hawk', as you human folk say, although no hawk can see as far as a dragon, so it is a rather silly figure of speech, if I may say so, no offense to you. It should rather be 'vision of a dragon'. Why do you humans have so many figures of speech? I love to learn new ones."

   "So you can help us?"

   "Yes, yes, I think I would be willing to make a deal with you. About six months ago, Memnon's crackle uncovered a fallen tower among these ruins. Since I was a little wyrmling until now, I am certain that it has remained buried, for I was hatched near these ruins and used them as my playground."

   "How old are you, if it is not rude to ask?" said Jayce.

   "It is not rude to ask. I am a couple centuries old.

   "As I was saying, this tower was now uncovered. Upon studying it more carefully, I am convinced that it is the Harem Palace of Calim himself. Calim was a fickle genie, and he liked variety; the palace is said to have housed nearly 2,000 male and female, human and jann slaves and concubines. Can you believe it? 2,000! It seems to me that there are only so many possible ways.... But I am off-topic again. My apologies. Yes, yes, the architecture was impressive. It had 64 towers and multiple pools and gardens. Were it still standing today, it would surely be one of the wonders of Faerûn, if not all of Toril. I had thought that only wall fragments and pillars remained of anything from Teshyll, let alone this amazing palace, yet there it was! I suppose the magics needed to maintain its bizarre shape helped protect its stones after all these millennia. It has been open to the sun long enough for desert animals to take shelter but not long enough for it to have been raided by adventurers yet."

   "I suppose you want us to bring you back some gold," said Mythlos.

   "Gold coins make for a nice and comfy bed, but I am not in need of more bedding. What I really long for are ancient revelations of the past, objects that I can add to my museum collection or study. Would you be interested in seeing these ruins?"

   The adventurers looked around at each other and then nodded in confirmation. "Allow us to pack up our remaining things first," said Leokas.

   "I will be waiting here," answered the huge dragon.

   They returned with all of their gear and followed behind Sseth as he walked in front of them, talking to no one in particular about the weather or the number of skradda he counted yestermorning. He had a very feline gait, and they had to take care to avoid his swinging tail.

   Leokas picked up his pace to come beside Sseth. "Might I ask you a question?"

   "Yes, of course."

   Leokas described their strange adventure at el Yndhar oasis, particularly the ordeal with the little girl, Rabi. "Do you know what they might have been?"

   "Were I to guess, it sounds like they were jann. There are several tribes of jann still living in this desert, even after all these millennia. Obviously, they still fear revealing themselves to humans."

   Leokas fell back with the others. "He thinks the nomads were 'jann'. What are jann?"

   "Jann are a kind of genie," said Vashti.

   "No one mentioned jann at the enclave," said Jayce.

   "They are the weakest of genies," said Vashti, "and thus, they do not come into many tales. Unlike other genies, they embody all four elements. Because of this, they must dwell on the Material Plane, though they are not human. They can change their size and teleport and fly, for example, and are exceptionally strong."

   "Now it all makes sense," pondered Leokas.

   She nodded.

   "Here we are," said Sseth, after twenty minutes of walking. They stood at the top of a dune, looking down into a bowl-shaped valley. There below them was the top portion of a minaret, fallen on its side and extending into the sand. It had a large hole broken into the onion-shaped cap. "If I am not mistaken, you look upon a fallen tower of the Harem Palace of Calim. Granted, after thousands and thousands of years, not much will have survived the decay of time, even buried under the protection of the sands. However, maybe, just maybe, you can find me some artifact to add to my museum back at my home, something that will reveal a glimpse of what life was like back then, so many ages ago. You see, I am too large to fit through the opening in the roof that you see, and if I were to burrow into the sand, I might cause whatever remains of the structure below to collapse. Would you do this for me, please? I would be so delighted."

   "What about any other treasure we might find?" asked Mythlos.

   "They will be yours to keep," said the dragon.

   "If we bring you back such a relic," said Jayce, "would you permit me to ride on your back to fly? I have always longed to soar in the sky."

   "Asking a dragon for a ride is considered rude, you should know," smiled Sseth. "However, because you played me such a wonderful song this morning, if you bring me back two artifacts, I shall give you a ride."

   "I do not think Kamil will fit through that opening," said Belvin. "Would you be able to watch over my camel for me?" he asked Sseth.

   "Your camel looks delightfully tasty," answered Sseth, sniffing the air as well, "but I see he is your friend, so you do not have to worry. I give you a dragon's word."

   "What do you know about a 'dragon's word'?" whispered Mythlos to Jayce.

   "Nothing at all," he whispered back, "but I do not sense any deceit in him."

   "Please take good care of him," said Belvin.

   "Yes, yes, I will. Now, may your gods go with you and keep you safe. Remember, I will find you your hobgoblins if you can bring me a suitable treasure for my collection."

   So they carefully descended down the steep bank of sand. When they looked back up, they saw Sseth lying on his belly and happily talking to Kamil.
Session: 10th Game Session - Thursday, Jun 06 2013 from 4:30 AM to 7:00 AM
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